Month: February 2017

What Is The Statute Of Limitations On Rape?

The statute of limitations on rape differs depending on whether you plan to file a civil claim or press charges, the state you live in, and the age you were at the time of the assault.

What Are Statutes of Limitations?

The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time:

  • An accuser has to come forward (in criminal cases); and

  • A plaintiff has to file suit against a defendant (in civil cases)

By implementing statutes of limitations, courts protect defendants by giving them a fighting chance to defend themselves against the charges. It would be almost impossible to defend against a crime you committed 20 years prior. However, it also gives plaintiffs a better chance of having a successful claim because witnesses’ memories are fresh and there is a smaller chance that involved parties will lose evidence or move away.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in My State?

Every state differs. Many states have no criminal statute of limitations (you can file whenever you want) for abuse that occurred when you were a minor; others have 10- to 30-year statutes of limitation.

Most have relatively short statutes of limitation for civil cases though.

Take Florida, for example.

Florida has an eight-year statute of limitations for criminal charges and a four-year limitation for civil cases.

However, many states also have exceptions to these limitations. Take Florida as an example again.

You only have four years to file a claim, although this limit can vary depending on certain factors:

  • A victim under 16 years of age may file a civil sexual battery suit at any time.

  • A victim between 16 and 18 years of age has seven years from the day they turn 18 to file civil suit against their attacker; four years from the time the victim could leave the dependency of their attacker; or discovery of the injury and causation (abuse caused injury).

Call the team at Edwards Pottinger LLC to determine your statute of limitations: 954-524-2820. If your case is still within the statute of limitations, we will get started immediately holding your rapist liable for the harm you endured.

Rape: Criminal vs. Civil

Sexual abuse of any kind is a crime under both Florida and federal law. Sexual abuse includes a number of crimes including:

  • Sexual assault

  • Rape or sexual battery

  • Sexual groping

  • Nonconsensual sexual contact

  • Sexual contact between an adult and a minor

Typically, the state will bring criminal charges against the perpetrator. The prosecution will carry the burden of proof and must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge or jury finds the perpetrator guilty of rape charges, s/he will face severe criminal penalties including possible jail time.

Rape victims do not recover damages for their physical, emotional, and financial injuries in a criminal trial. Their best chance to recover damages for their suffering is to file a civil suit against their assailant. The results of the criminal trial do not have an impact on whether the victim will recover damages in civil court.

Rape victims and other survivors of sexual assault deserve monetary damages to be able to focus fully on their recovery. No dollar amount will ever make what happened okay, but financial awards can be helpful when it comes to paying medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses such as pain and suffering and mental anguish. The best way to recover monetary damages is to file suit against your attacker in civil court.

Filing a Civil Suit for Rape

To cover your medical bills and lost wages and to recover compensation for the emotional and physical effects of your rape, we must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant raped you. The preponderance of the evidence standard requires we prove the defendant “more than likely” raped you.

While this standard is “easier” to prove than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it still requires evidence such as expert testimony, your recollection of the attack, and medical records. While this is a difficult process, we will do anything we can to make it as painless as possible and to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation due to you.

The sexual abuse attorneys at Edwards Pottinger LLC focus on sexual battery cases in civil court and will help you regain control of your life and make sure your attacker pays for the horrible crime he committed.

Call 954-524-2820 to discuss the applicable statute of limitations and how it might affect your case.

What Are My Legal Rights As A Crime Victim In Florida?

Crime victims often feel helpless and vulnerable after their traumatic experience. However, it is important to remember that if you are the victim of a crime in Florida, you have rights. The attorneys at Edwards Pottinger LLC can help you assert those rights. For your benefit, below, we detail your legal rights as a crime victim in Florida.

What Are My Rights in the State of Florida?

Florida passed several laws to protect crime victims and make sure they receive fair and compassionate treatment. These rights extend to both criminal and civil court.

You Have the Right to Information.

Crime victims may feel overwhelmed with both the criminal and civil court process. As a victim, you are entitled to information regarding the various stages of the criminal justice process, including information regarding all proceedings and hearings from the state. You are also entitled to know when an officer arrests the person who harmed you and when the state will release that person.

As your attorneys, it is our responsibility to keep you informed regarding your civil case. We will update you every step of the way and let you know our strategy when it comes to presenting your case in court. We will let you know our policy for updates (e.g., how often you can expect an update, how you will receive updates, etc.) so you never feel left in the dark.

You Have the Right to Receive Physical, Financial, and Emotional Help.

As a crime victim, you have the right to take advantage of any services the state offers. This might include:

You Have the Right to Help Hold the Criminal Accountable in a Court of Law.

In many criminal and civil cases, you have the right to be included in the proceedings and express your views, particularly in civil court. While criminal court focuses more on apprehending the perpetrator (but will take your wishes into account), civil court focuses on you, the victim. You may generally testify to the following matters:

  • Your relationship with the defendant(s), if there was one
  • The incident itself and the moments leading up to it
  • How the incident affected you physically, emotionally, and financially

You Have the Right to File for Damages and Hold the Criminal Accountable.

Some crime victims mistakenly believe that they can only recover restitution in criminal court. You also have a couple other options for recovering damages. In some cases, you may receive compensation from the Bureau of Victim Compensation.

You may file a lawsuit against your attacker and other liable parties for compensation. Civil courts allow the victim to take center stage and solely focus on the amount of damages a victim should receive. Remember that civil cases are completely separate from criminal cases and that you can recover damages in civil court even if the criminal court finds your assailant not guilty.

How Can I Exercise My Right to File Suit?

Our attorneys represent crime victims in court to help them collect compensation for a variety of crimes. Whom we file against depends on who contributed to the crime. In almost every case, we will file against the person who committed the crime.

We might also file a premises liability claim against any property owners or business owners whose negligence partially or fully caused the incident to occur. For example, if an assault and battery occurs in a dimly lit parking garage with no security, the property owner may be liable for failing to provide adequate security.

Once we have determined who to sue, we will start building your case by collecting evidence and preparing witnesses. The most successful cases have an abundance of evidence supporting their claims including:

  • Police reports, witness testimony, and photos/surveillance video documenting the incident
  • Victim testimony describing the events
  • Medical records documenting injuries, surgeries, and rehabilitation
  • Pay stubs and employment records documenting lost wages for time you spent recovering
  • Expert testimony regarding injury causation and how the crime physically and mentally affects victims

Crime victims have a long road of recovery ahead of them. The least we can do is make that road a little easier. At Edwards Pottinger LLC, we are committed to fighting for justice on behalf of innocent crime victims and their families. Our firm can help you recover compensation and get justice for homicide, sexual assault and molestation, assault and battery, and other horrific crimes.

To discuss the specifics of your claim, call us at 954-524-2820.